|Publication number||US4036543 A|
|Application number||US 05/735,914|
|Publication date||Jul 19, 1977|
|Filing date||Oct 27, 1976|
|Priority date||Oct 27, 1975|
|Publication number||05735914, 735914, US 4036543 A, US 4036543A, US-A-4036543, US4036543 A, US4036543A|
|Original Assignee||Bunsaku Taketomi|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (2), Referenced by (8), Classifications (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates to a plug socket or receptacle for receiving a plug attached to an electric appliance. More particularly, this invention is concerned with a plug receptacle including a rotatable member having openings for insertion of contact pins or poles of a plug and adapted for rotation in a direction which permits the plug pins to be pulled out of the member in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axes of the openings.
There is known a plug receptacle having such a rotatable ball member. This plug receptacle is advantageous in that the plug can be pulled in any of a certain range of directions for detachment from the receptacle, since the plug pin openings turn to face the same direction. The device, however, comprises a socket member adapted to be stationarily supported on a wall of a room or the like and a ball member enclosed in the socket member. Complicated means are required to hold the ball member rotatably in the socket member. The ball member cannot easily be separated from the socket member, because the greater portion of the ball member is enclosed within the socket member. The plug receptacle of such construction disadvantageously requires a great expenditure of time and labor for internal inspection in case of electrical failure therein. This device is further disadvantageous because it requires complicated means for establishing adequate electrical connection between the ball and socket members, while maintaining the necessary rotatability of the ball member relative to the socket member.
It is, therefore, an object of this invention to provide a novel and improved plug receptacle having a rotatable member which does not have any of the aforementioned drawbacks. The plug receptacle of this invention comprises a socket member, a generally spherical ball member and a member connecting the ball member to the socket member. The socket member is open at one end and has a flared annular bearing surface encircling the open end. The ball member has an outer peripheral surface which is spherical and complementary to the bearing surface of the socket member. The connecting member maintains the outer peripheral surface of the ball member in slidable contact with the bearing surface of the socket member. The ball member includes a flat surface in which openings are formed for receiving contact pins or poles of a plug. The ball member is rotatably supported on the bearing surface of the socket member, so that its plug pin receiving openings can have their longitudinal axes turned in any of a certain range of directions so as to face upward or downward, leftward or rightward, or otherwise within a predetermined angle relative to the socket member. For detachment of the plug from the device of this invention, therefore, one can pull a plug cord in any of a certain range of directions that is convenient to him. In whichever of such directions the cord may be pulled, adequate angular movement of the ball member takes place immediately relative to the socket member to permit the contact pins of the plug to be easily pulled out in a direction parallel to the longitudinal axes of the plug receiving openings in the ball member.
The socket member is very simple in construction and easy to manufacture. The socket member may comprise a hollow cylindrical body which is open at one end and closed at another end, and which is formed with a flared annular bearing surface at its open end. The bearing surface has a spherical configuration in a plane which is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the socket member, and is complementary to the outer peripheral surface of the ball member. The ball member may, thus, be readily positioned in place relative to the socket member with its outer peripheral surface held against the bearing surface of the socket member. Accordingly, the plug receptacle of this invention is very easy to assemble.
The connecting member may comprise a string of a sufficient length. This string may advantageously be of such length as to permit, without its detachment from the socket and ball members, separation of the ball member from the socket member by a distance which is sufficient to provide easy access to the interior of the device. Accordingly, the device of this invention is very easy to inspect and repair in case any problem is encountered with internal electrical connection.
Moreover, the mutually facing surfaces of the ball and socket members may be provided with appropriate guide means, whereby the ball member may be prevented from rotating about the longitudinal axis of the device.
Other objects, features and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description which should be read with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of the plug receptacle embodying this invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along the line II--II of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a side elevational view showing the ball member detached from the socket member;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along the line IV--IV of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a longitudinal sectional view showing angular displacement of the ball member relative to the socket member;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary longitudinal sectional view illustrating a different connecting member from that shown in FIGS. 1 through 5;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary front elevational view showing another embodiment of this invention;
FIG. 8 is a longitudinal sectional view of the device shown in FIG. 7 and taken along the line VIII--VIII thereof; and
FIG. 9 is a longitudinal sectional view of a further embodiment of this invention.
Referring now to the drawings more particularly, especially FIGS. 1 through 5 thereof, there is shown a plug receptacle 10 which comprises a socket member 11 and a ball member 12 rotatably supported on the socket member 11 by a string 13. The socket member 11 includes a sleeve 15 and an insulating base 16 provided at one end of the sleeve 15 and closing that end of the sleeve 15. The insulating base 16 has an outer periphery formed with a flange 17. The sleeve 15 and the insulating base 16 are of integral construction formed from a hard insulative material. A flush plate 18 is secured to the rear face of the insulating base 16 by screws 19 extending through the flange 17. The flush plate 18 is adapted to cover the front opening of an outlet box embedded in a wall of a room or the like. The flange 17 and the screws 19 are, however, only illustrative of means for connecting the insulating base 16 to the flush plate 18 and it is alternatively possible to use an appropriate adhesive for the purpose of such connection as shown in FIG. 8, in which a layer of adhesive material 59 is formed on the rear face of the insulating base 16. The screws 19 also serve to secure the socket member 11 to the outlet box. The sleeve 15 has another end that is open and formed with a flared bearing surface 20 having an annular shape. The bearing surface 20 has a spherical configuration, so that the ball member 12 can slidably fit the bearing surface 20 as will hereinafter be described in further detail. The sphere which defines the spherical configuration of the bearing surface 20 has its center on the center of the open end of the sleeve 15 or slightly outwardly thereof.
A pair of contact blades 21 are secured to the insulating base 16 and project beyond the rear face of the flush plate 18. The contact blades 21 are adapted to be received in an existing socket in the outlet box. The contact blades 21 are made of a metallic material having a good electrical conductivity. The contact blades 21 are spaced from each other to suit the spacing between the outlet openings of the existing socket. Each of the contact blades 21 has an inner end 21' located within the sleeve 15 and bent at right angles to the remaining portion of the contact blade 21. One end of an electric wire 23 is fastened to the bent end 21' of each contact blade 21 by a screw 22 as shown in FIG. 2. It is, however, to be noted that any other means than the screws 22 may equally be used to connect the electric wires 23 to the contact blades 21. The electric wires 23 are covered wires and coiled for expansion. Each of the screws 22 does not merely connect the electric wire 23 to the bent end 21' of the contact blade 21, but also serves to fasten the bent end 21' of the contact blade 21 to the insulating base 16 as is obvious from FIG. 2.
An aperture 24 is provided through the center of the insulating base 16 and a groove 25 connected with the aperture 24 is formed in the rear face of the insulating base 16. The aperture 24 and the groove 25 represent in combination an example of means for guiding the string 13 extending from the interior to the exterior of the socket member 11. The string 13 merely represents an example of means for connecting the ball member 12 to the socket member 11. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1 to 5, a nylon string having a diameter of approximately 1 to 1.5 mm is used, but it is alternatively possible to use a chain, a wire rope or any other type of string which is rigid and flexible.
The insulating base 16 is provided with means for clamping the string 13 thereto. The clamping means 26 comprises a clamping plate 27 positioned in the groove 25. The clamping plate 27 has an uneven surface facing the string 13 and adapted for frictional contact therewith. The insulating base 16 includes a threaded bore 28 in which a set screw 29 is engaged for rotation in one direction to hold the string 13 against the flush plate 18. The string 13 includes a string extension 13a projecting out of the groove 25. The string extension 13a may conveniently be wound round the socket member 11 as shown in FIG. 1 and fastened to it by any appropriate fastening means.
The ball member 12 comprises a generally spherical, partly hollow body 30 and a number of parts provided in the body 30. The body 30 may be formed from an appropriate electrically insulative material which may be selected, for example, from among synthetic resins. The body 30 has a flat front surface 30a, a concave rear surface 30b and a spherical outer peripheral surface 30c. The outer peripheral surface 30c has a radius which is greater than the minimum radius of the bearing surface 20 of the sleeve 15, but which is equal to the radius of the sphere defining the bearing surface 20, so that the outer peripheral surface 30c closely fits the bearing surface 20. The body 30 is provided approximately in its center with a through hole 31 through which the string 13 extends. The open end of the hole 31 which is closer to the rear surface 30b is located on the center 32 of the sphere defining the outer peripheral surface 30c. The other end of the hole 31 is connected with another through hole 34 which is greater in diameter than the hole 31. The difference in diameter between the holes 31 and 34 defines an annular shoulder 35 therebetween. The string 13 includes a knot 13b formed at its end remote from the string extension 13a and the knot 13b bears against the shoulder 35.
A pair of openings 36 are juxtaposed in the front surface 30a of the body 30 as shown in FIG. 1. Each opening 36 contains a female receptacle 37 which is adapted in a well known manner to receive therein one of contact pins or poles, not shown, of a plug 40 to establish both mechanical and electrical connection. Each of the female receptacles 37 has a base end portion 38 which is exposed on the rear surface 30b of the body 30 and bent at right angles to the remaining portion of the receptacle 37. The other end of each electric wire 23 is fastened to the base end portion 38 of one of the female receptacles 37 by an appropriate means, for example, a screw 39. The female receptacles 37 are made of an appropriate metallic material having a good electrical conductivity. The screws 39 do not merely fasten the electric wires 23 to the base end portions 38 of the female receptacles 37, but also serve to connect the base end portions 38 to the body 30 of the ball member 12.
Attention is now directed to a method of positioning the ball member 12 correctly relative to the socket member 11. FIG. 3 shows the socket member 11 and the ball member 12 in their separated or disassembled position. The string extension 13a is pulled outwardly along the groove 25 to draw the ball member 12 toward the socket member 11, whereby the outer peripheral surface 30c of the body 30 abuts on the bearing surface 20 of the sleeve 15. If too large a force is applied to pull out the string 13, the outer peripheral surface 30c is brought into an undesirable frictional contact with the bearing surface 20 due to an excessive tension exerted on the string 13 to prevent the ball member 12 from rotating smoothly relative to the socket member 11. In order to allow the ball member 12 to rotate on the bearing surface 20 smoothly as necessary, the tension exerted on the string 13 must be appropriately adjusted to provide an adequate friction between the bearing surface 20 of the socket member 11 and the outer peripheral surface 30c of the ball member 12. When this condition is satisfied, the set screw 29 is tightened to hold the string 13 against the flush plate 18. The electric wires 23 contract and house themselves in the socket member 11 as shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is intended for illustrating a mode of operation of the plug receptacle 10 as hereinabove described. When a cord 41 to which the plug 40 is attached is pulled in an upward direction, the plug 40 is also pulled in the same direction. Consequently, the ball member 12 is smoothly rotated upward on the bearing surface 20 about the sphere center 32. In this way, the openings 36 of the ball member 12 are always directed in a direction in which the cord 41 is pulled, whereby the contact pins or poles of the plug 40 are always pulled out from the openings 36 exactly along the longitudinal axes of the openings 36.
FIG. 6 illustrates a modified form of the connecting member shown in FIG. 2. Like numerals are used to indicate like parts or elements throughout the views of FIGS. 2 and 6. The connecting member employed in the device of FIG. 6 comprises a metal rod 43 having a hooked portion 44 at one end. The hooked portion 44 is removably engaged with a U-shaped retaining member 45 placed in the concave surface of the ball member body 30. The other end of the metal rod 43 is externally threaded as indicated at 46. The externally threaded portion 46 extends outward through an aperture in the insulating base 16 and is held against the rear face of the insulating base 16 by a nut 48. Thus, the insulating base 16 and the ball member body 30 can be easily separated from each other simply by removing the nut 48 from the metal rod 43. As is obvious from FIG. 6, the ball member is freely rotatable about the hooked portion 44 of the metal rod 43.
Reference is now made to FIGS. 7 and 8 showing another embodiment of this invention. The device of FIGS. 7 and 8 comprises a socket member 11A of the split construction which is separable into a pair of like elements 51 in a plane containing the longitudinal axis of the socket member. Each element 51 includes a mating face 52 which coincides with the plane in which the longitudinal axis of the socket member 11A extends. Each element 51 is formed with a dowel 54 in the vicinity of one edge of the mating face 52 and a complementary hollow 55 near the opposite edge. When the elements 51 are mated with each other, the dowel 54 of one element 51 fits into the hollow 55 of the other element 51, whereby the two elements 51 are kept from displacement relative to each other in the plane in which they are mated. Each element 51 is provided with lugs 53 adjacent to the mating surface and the lug 53 has a through hole 56 having a longitudinal axis perpendicular to the mating surface. When the two elements 51 are put together, they are integrally connected by screws 57 extending through the holes 56 of the lugs 53 and nuts 58 inserted over the screws 57. The two elements 51 are of identical shape and can be molded in a single die.
FIG. 9 illustrates a further embodiment of this invention. The device of FIG,. 9 comprises a ball member 12B having a spherical outer peripheral surface 30c which is formed with an elongate groove 61 running along a plane containing the longitudinal axis of the ball member, i.e., the line connecting the centers of the front and rear surfaces 30a and 30b. This plane is a vertical plane when the device is in use. A pin 62 projects from the bearing surface 20 of a socket member 11B and is engaged in the elongate groove 61 of the ball member. The groove 61 and the pin 62 constitute in combination guide means for preventing rotation of the ball member 12B about the aforementioned longitudinal axis thereof, while permitting free rotation of the ball member relative to the socket member 11B in any direction as desired, whether vertically, horizontally or obliquely. It will be understood that the elongate groove 61 may alternatively be formed to extend along any other plane if that plane contains the aforementioned longitudinal axis of the ball member. It will further be observed that the guide pin 62 may be formed to project from any other portion of the bearing surface of the socket member 11B if it is positioned to fit in the elongate groove 61.
Although the invention has been described with reference to several embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that further modifications or variations may be made by any person of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope of this invention which is defined by the appended claims.
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